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Broad Foundation names SD Unified as finalist for 2013 urban education award

LOS ANGELES --The San Diego Unified School District was named a finalist for the 2013 Broad Prize for Urban Education, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation announced March 27. As one of four districts in the country to be recognized for student achievement gains, San Diego Unified stands to win at least $150,000 and as much as $550,000 in college scholarships for its high school seniors if the district wins the top prize.

The Broad Prize for Urban Education is an annual $1 million award -- the largest education prize in the country--that honors urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students.

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The other finalists this year are: the Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., Cumberland County Schools, N.C., and the Houston Independent School District. Corona-Norco and Houston were finalists last year. This is the first time in the award's 12-year history that San Diego and Cumberland County have been finalists.

The winner of the 2013 Broad Prize will be announced on Sept. 25 in Washington, D.C. at the Library of Congress. The winning district will receive $550,000 in scholarships for its students, and the three finalist districts will each receive $150,000 in scholarships, for a total distribution of $1 million.

"San Diego should be commended for its steadfast commitment to improving student achievement," said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which awards The Broad Prize. "But even while these finalist districts are moving in the right direction, there is still a long road ahead before we can truly celebrate high levels of academic success. And as we look at other urban districts across the country, there is significantly more progress that needs to be made."

Seventy-five of the nation's largest urban school districts were automatically eligible and considered for The Broad Prize. School districts cannot apply or be nominated.

This year's four finalists were selected by a review board of 17 prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives from leading universities, education associations, civil rights advocacy organizations, think-tanks and foundations. The review board evaluated publicly available academic achievement data that were compiled and analyzed by MPR Associates, Inc., a leading national education research consulting firm.

In selecting the finalists, the review board looks for urban school districts that show the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students. Among the data they consider are SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement participation rates and outcomes, graduation rates, state assessments in reading, math and science, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, student demographics including poverty, state test rigor, per pupil expenditures and district size. The Broad Foundation does not play a role in selecting the finalists or the winner.

Among the reasons that San Diego Unified was chosen as a 2013 Broad Prize finalist:

  • San Diego students outperform students in peer districts statewide. In 2012, San Diego students performed better than students in other California districts that serve students with similar family incomes in elementary, middle and high school reading, math and science, according to The Broad Prize methodology.

  • San Diego narrowed Hispanic and low-income achievement gaps. In recent years, San Diego narrowed achievement gaps between its Hispanic students and the state's white students in elementary, middle and high school reading, math and science and between its Hispanic and white students in elementary, middle and high school reading and science and in elementary and high school math. San Diego also narrowed achievement gaps between its low-income students and the state's non-low-income students in elementary, middle and high school science and in elementary and high school reading and math.

  • Low-income, Hispanic and African-American high school students in San Diego improved more in science than much of the state. In recent years, San Diego was in the top 30 percent of California districts for increasing the percentage of its low-income, Hispanic and African-American high school students who performed at the highest achievement levels on the state science assessment. For example, between 2010 and 2012, the percentage of low-income students performing at the highest achievement levels increased by 8 percentage points in high school science, while the increase for the rest of California was just 3 percentage points during that period.

Over the next two months, teams of educational researchers and practitioners led by the education consulting company RMC Research Corporation will conduct a four-day site visit in each finalist district using a research-based rubric for district quality to gather qualitative information, interview district administrators, conduct focus groups with teachers and principals and observe classrooms. The teams will also interview parents, community leaders, school board members and union representatives. A selection jury of prominent individuals from business, industry, education and public service will then choose the winning school district after reviewing both the student achievement data and the qualitative site visit reports.

For more information about The Broad Prize, please visit www.broadprize.org.

Founded by entrepreneur Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, both graduates of Detroit Public Schools, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a philanthropy that seeks to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed. Bringing together top education experts and practitioners, the foundation funds system-wide programs and policies that strengthen public schools by creating environments that allow good teachers to do great work and enable students of all backgrounds to learn and thrive. The Broad Foundation's Internet address is www.broadeducation.org, and updates are available on Twitter @broadfoundation. 

Source: Broad Foundation